Colibri Assets to be Sold by Mid-Year

All assets of the shutdown The Colibri Group, including well-known brand name lines, should be sold before mid-year, says the court-appointed receiver overseeing their disposal.

“There have been many, many inquiries, both national and international,” attorney Alan M Shine (pictured), of the Providence, R.I., law firm Winograd, Shine, & Zacks, told JCK. Offers for the Colibri business “in its entirety” or “appropriate lines” will be considered, he noted. Anyone interested in any or all of Colibri assets can e-mail him, he said, at ashine@wszlaw.com, but should provide contact information and the nature of their interest.

Colibri designed, made, and marketed jewelry, clocks, lighters, and accessories under several brand names, including Colibri, Seth Thomas, Dolan Bullock and Krementz. It also had license and distribution agreements with several companies, including Disney, Guinness, Nickelodeon, and American Idol.

The Rhode Island Superior Court will soon announce the timeframe in which bids will be submitted, reviewed and approved.

Colibri, one of best-known U.S. suppliers of independent and chain jewelers, suddenly closed Jan. 14, blaming “current economic conditions.” It owes two major banks $28 million, plus about $6 million to vendors and creditors.

Colibri’s 280 employees learned of the shutdown that same day in an evening e-mail from the company or when they came to work Jan. 15, and found the doors locked. The company has been in receivership, at the request of Founders Equity, Colibri’s majority shareholder, since Jan. 15.

About 250 ousted Colibri workers and supportersrallied Feb. 3 at Colibri’s former East Providence, R.I., headquarters, to demand pay, health benefits, and severance pay they alleged is due them. Shine was also there.

“They had asked to have a rally outside the building, so I was there to be helpful and to answer any questions,” he said. But when Shine saw how raw the weather was—“blustery, windy, snowy,” he said—and how many people were outside protesting (about 250, say published reports)—he opened the building and invited them into its warm cafeteria.

Shine seemed surprised when asked why he did that. “It was the right thing to do,” he said. “They were left out in the cold on Jan. 14, and I didn’t want to leave them out in the cold, again.”

Shine stayed for the entire protest rally. During it, he told the former Colibri employees they can file claims until early June for severance, back pay, and health care; and he promised them “a fair and prompt decision.”

“We will cooperate with them, and they’ll get fair and appropriate treatment from the receiver and the court,” he told JCK.